These lines come to you from the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, where I sit, preparing to return to New York. The Dominicans of our St. Martin de Porres Province hosted a beautiful weekend conference to celebrate the 800th
anniversary of our Order of Preachers. The gathering included Friars, Sisters and Dominican Laity. Even the Master of the Order came from Rome to participate. Our Brothers lavished the best of southern hospitality on us. Indeed their
welcome, and their careful planning, came as a powerful “preaching to preachers.”
It was my honor to give one of the “breakout” presentations at this event.
Preaching to one’s own always comes as a great gift and a deep challenge. Such preaching bestows the honor and the demand to do new thinking. This past weekend we were all trying to pray about, and reflect upon, a very ancient life, which we live out as denizens of the present age. At such a moment, I ask myself, “what does my life offer to my times?” The question touches all of you, since you receive our preaching and our pastoral care. At one level, a homily is a talk one needs to prepare, drawing upon theological training, scriptural commentaries and the rest. At a deeper level, preaching comes as the fruit of a whole way of life, which includes study but also touches on every aspect of existence. Words
uttered in our pulpit on a Sunday morning, in our confessional on a Wednesday afternoon, or in parish study on a
Tuesday evening emerge from a life of study, prayer, and domestic life held in common.
Obviously Dominican life has evolved considerably over the last eight centuries, yet we identify elements that define it consistently in each age. If these sine qua non attributes of the Order affect the way the Friars preach and teach on a routine basis, they necessarily shape the development of our new parish. Over time we hope this makes for genuine coherence of life, in which preaching, music, social life, and educational life become more and more of a piece.
Tapping Dominican principles of life also enables our parish of St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena to enhance the beautiful mosaic that is the local church of New York. Indeed, the very splendor of Pentecost surrounds us. Consider that the Jesuits, have a magnificent parish 1 mile from us, while just 10 blocks away the Blessed Sacrament Fathers have St. Jean Baptiste with a common life arranged around adoration of the Holy Eucharist. Meanwhile St. John Nepomucene– St-John the Martyr–St. Frances Cabrini is administered by diocesan priests. I ponder this with delight, happy in the thought of how different these parishes are.
Our role in such a singular setting is not to compete with other institutions, but to accept the challenge of being our collective best self. Since, in our city there is such a freedom of movement, we have even more opportunity to pursue this development. Indeed, the jubilee of the Order invites us to shape our growth with ever greater attention and
You will remember that last spring we had a beautiful solemn celebration of the jubilee, presided over by
Cardinal Dolan. To complement this, as we move toward the actual anniversary on December 22, I would like to speak to the community in an extended fashion about this connection of Dominican life and our parochial life. An opportunity offers itself in the week ahead.
November 1st, 2nd, and 3rd offer us a remarkable triduum, three days, for reflecting on communion in spiritual things. An order or a parish can certainly be assessed in material terms, but we only fully grasp either as a specific, real spiritual connection between people. The same holds true for marriages. On All Saints Day we celebrate not only that innumerable men and women have achieved Christian holiness but that they spend eternity wanting to share it with us. Their intercession is a spiritual good upon which we rely and God has made it effective for us. On All Souls Day we take up our own call to share the good of our prayers with those on the way of purgation, for God has made our prayer effective in their crossing the final threshold. On November 3, we honor St. Martin de Porres a Brother of our Order who shared extraordinary spiritual goods with his fellow Dominicans and with the poor of Lima.
We have festive masses planned for each of these days, and I hope these celebrations can serve as a parochial
festival of the Jubilee. Specifically, I would like to use the preaching at these Masses to speak about how a Dominican
parish, such as ours, is a community in which the Order of Preachers shares spiritual goods intimately with a portion of God’s people. It is so important to add right here that the traffic goes in two directions! Also, to speak about our
particular spiritual riches pays homage to spiritual abundance in other parts of the Church, which in fact are only blocks away.
Let me close with a vignette that I think illustrates these things. Parishioners have been asking that we develop our practice of “Family Mass.” This request has come at several times over recent years. I have always agreed in principle, but I have never seen my way clear to implementing this project with a shape congenial to my Brothers and me. Recently, it came to me how I might do this, and the upshot was our 10 am Mass on October 16, with which I was more than pleased. It took me time, but this development did occur through the meeting of minds between Dominicans and Parishioners.
I hope the St. Jude Novena brought some prayerful calm to these difficult pre-election days. Do let us keep the matter in prayer as the time draws near.
October 20-18 The Novena to St. Jude
Novena Prayers at all the Masses
Novena preaching by Fr. John Devaney, O.P.
– 12:10 PM at St. Vincent Ferrer
– 5:15 PM at St. Catherine of Siena
– 8 AM at St. Vincent Ferrer
– 4 PM at St Catherine of Siena
– 12 PM at St. Vincent Ferrer
– 5 PM at St. Catherine of Siena
October 28 The Feast of St. Jude
– 5:15 pm Sung Mass and Procession at St. Catherine of Siena
Reception follows in St. Dominic Hall.
Please help the Dominican Friars celebrate 100 years of formal community life at St. Catherine’s.
The Preaching at the festive Masses on November 1, 2, and 3 will serve as a reflection on the 800th
Anniversary of the Dominican Friars. It will address the significance of an intentionally fraternal and sororal mode of life in the present day.
October 31 The Vigil of All Saints
– 5:15 pm Sung Mass of the Vigil at St. Catherine of Siena
– 6 pm Low Mass of the Vigil at St. Vincent Ferrer
November 1 The Solemnity of All Saints
– 7 am Low Mass at St. Catherine of Siena
– 8 am Low Mass at St. Vincent Ferrer
– 12:10 pm Sung Mass at St. Vincent Ferrer with St. Vincent Ferrer High School
– 1 pm Low Mass at St. Catherine of Siena
– 5:15 pm Low Mass at St. Catherine of Siena
– 6 pm Solemn Mass and Litany of Saints in Procession at St. Vincent Ferrer
Parish Party follows
*NB. There will be no Parish Study this evening.
November 2 All Souls Day The schedule of Masses is as usual, and
– 6:30 pm Solemn Requiem Mass with Procession to the Purgatorial Altar at St Catherine of Siena
*NB There will be no Holy Hour this evening.
November 3 Feast of St. Martin de Porres
– 6 pm Sung Mass and Processin to St. Martin’s Shrine at St. Vincent Ferrer
– 7 pm Solemn Requiem in the Dominican Rite at St. Vincent Ferrer
Sponsored by the New York Purgatorial Society.
November 8 Election Day
November 11 Veterans Day
The Parish Office is closed, but the schedule of Masses and confessions remains the same.
November 13 The Thirty-Third Sunday of the Year
– 1 pm Parish Coffee at St. Vincent Ferrer
(delayed a week because of the New York Marathon on the 6th)
November 19 – 20 The Solemnity of Christ the King
All Night watch before the Blessed Sacrament from Saturday evening until Sunday morning. St. Vincent Ferrer
– 10 am Family Mass and Coffee at St Catherine of Siena
November 24 Thanksgiving Day
– 8 am Low Mass at St. Vincent Ferrer
– 9 am Sung Mass at St. Catherine of Siena
Gaffes have become the spectator sport of the election season. Sometimes faux pas come from loss of temper, or from fits of enthusiasm that burst the dykes raised by careful handlers. But most often gaffes come from tripping over pesky details. Every candidate must brave the “gotcha” moments of life. We know that they actually know the answer, or didn’t mean it to come off that way, but their missteps, miscues, and malapropisms allow us to exact a pound of flesh from them for being in our faces so much, for so long.
Details make up that intractable part of life that does not conform to great visions and ideological purities. Details make fun of these grand things and ask how you actually plan to accomplish this project and pay for it. I expect that details will be nipping at our parochial heels for the next year.
Ahead of us are months of the nuts and bolts work needed to make our new parish a comfortable dwelling. We will try to deal with these on as systematic a basis as possible.
Some concrete means of looking at “the little picture” are:
After months of administrative change we will begin to deepen the collegial and
collaborative culture we already have between the staff and friars.
The preparation of a liturgical “Customary” so that celebrants, ministers, and sacristans in both churches find themselves on the same page.
Development of a plan for the governance of the Parish. This will enable the whole parish to
understand better the responsibilities of the Parish Trustees, the Finance Council, the
Pastoral Council, and the Committees of the Parish.
We will also work to continue to develop the means of communication available to our parish community.
Matters of detail often entail a particular “conflict of interest.” One person finds a matter to be central, which another regards as trivial. The only counsel to give both parties is patience. Patience in a community such as ours works in two key ways. First, I must be patient while others spend much time, and speak many words about matters I find to be unimportant. At the same time I must exercise patience when things important to me remain undecided, so that real order in these affairs can emerge. The order that is imposed does not last, while that which is permitted to emerge is tailored, sustainable, and enduring. It is beautiful.
So I ask your prayers for the parishioner, staff, and clergy who need to work out so many things so that our Parish life has the serenity people look for in the Church.
This weekend will complete our “startup” season with the resumption of Solemn Mass at 12 pm. Bishop John O’Hara will come to St. Vincent’s to celebrate this Mass, and, confirm young candidates from St. Vincent Ferrer High School and from our parish religious education program. Witnessing these rites will be the Freshman class of our High School and their families. We have confidence that all involved will remember not only the sacramental rites, but the singing of our new Schola Cantorum, who will make their debut at this Mass, under the direction of James Wetzel.
For several years now we have brought together the resumption of the choir, Confirmations, and the “Welcoming Mass” of the High School. Joining these elements accomplishes a dual purpose. Effectively we can begin our Parish year with a “Mass of the Holy Spirit,” seeking His direction for all our enterprises. At the same time, such a Mass manifests the complexity of our parish community, ultimately orchestrated by the Spirit. Around our altar on this first Sunday of October are residents from our neighborhood, high school families from every borough and Westchester, and gifted singers, as well as Friars and Sisters of the Order of Preachers. All of these people have come together for a Mass, but they embody the variety of people who pray, work, study, and socialize in this place all the time. Our parish stands at a social and cultural crossroads. This complexity makes us a microcosm of our city and of our Church, and complexity in human affairs is something God blesses.
From the moment of Pentecost God has made the Church not only multi-lingual but multi-cultural, indicating that the Gospel should not only penetrate every culture, but that it should bring cultures into the creative tension of communion. It would not be unfair to say that the edgy vibrancy we live with as New Yorkers gives us a clue about the spiritual reality of the living Body of Christ all over the globe.
For this reason, the Church, and by extension the Parish, defies monolithic imagery. We never achieve either the focus of the military or the galvanized passion of a movement. Instead we invite people to find their particular place in the intricate mosaic of our life so that they can find sanctification not only by being and doing their best, but by perfecting task and temperament in the crucible of context.
This means that when the Church asks, she asks double. She says, “Please take part in our life and find Christ,” then she adds, “and share Him with all the other people He loves.” She implores, “please volunteer for our committees and projects,” then she adds, “and volunteer alongside all the other volunteers.” The neighborly half of these propositions doubles the practical and emotional scale of commitment, but it multiplies even more the surprising joys of belonging and participating. Our emotional maturity and spiritual completion demand that we engage the complexity inherent in being human and in being Christian.
Complexity offers an essential watchword for the times. Our economic and political climate seems to drive people into a vain attempt to simplify social reality, or, failing that, to withdraw into a private simplicity of their own creation. Running away from circumstances offers no less futility than taking a hatchet to them. What avails for personal and social sanity is the recognition of how much and how many we must take account of to connect fully with the life God has given.
Consider the many challenges of being a single mother with an infant in our city in these times. How does one vulnerable person manage for two. The Sisters of Life offer young mothers the spiritual and practical help they need to face reality rather than to defy it or avoid it. Theirs is a work of accompanying real people, in real life, and in real time.
During October we are asked to help them with gift of real things, supplies for infants and mothers. You will find details about this drive in our bulletin. No doubt we, as a parish, have complex views on the social issues of the day. But the task of helping women help women with children impels us all to ponder the complicated people beneath the complicated issues.
The interdependent functions of a Solemn Mass teach us about the way lives are woven together in a fabric of which only God is able to see the full pattern. The women we try to help this month remind us that they and their children form part of His composition, as are so many others presented our concern by the news of these days. In Liturgy and life happiness comes in being part of.